Long term social distancing: Impact on public life & public transport?

Enthusiast

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it’s either compulsory reservations or unless you don’t own a car you can’t travel anywhere,
And the problems I illustrated in post #1275 (which would not be at all isolated)? And the problems of such a system in Central London? And the problems mentioned by Mat, above? Sorry, but the idea is nonsense. The choices are far more straightforward: the country returns to work normally, which will involve public transport running normally; or it doesn't and the economy completely collapses. Two months of this have seen economic ruin (together with 40k deaths and probably millions of infections). Two more months will see complete economic collapse.
 
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Mat17

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I've seen several Cardiff Buses literally empty. Even on the normally busy routes. They lost £800,000 last year with full buses. Not looking good.
Exactly the same in other places. I know Firstbus was shedding routes in our region to sustain profitability. So many services cut back to the bone already and all the operators fighting over the same half-dozen or so profitable routes. Now with social distancing, I don't see how any company can operate double decker buses with a capacity of about 18 or 20 people all in, day in day out, month in month out. Surely the fuel costs, maintenance, staff wages etc. will simply make most bus companies hit the rocks within the next 18 months? Even mighty giants like Stagecoach/First/Arriva surely can't sustain operations under such conditions? Most routes around my city are now operating at passenger levels only seen on tendered services, most of which were axed after 2010.
 

Bletchleyite

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And the problems I illustrated in post #1275 (which would not be at all isolated)? And the problems of such a system in Central London? And the problems mentioned by Mat, above? Sorry, but the idea is nonsense. The choices are far more straightforward: the country returns to work normally, which will involve public transport running normally; or it doesn't and the economy completely collapses. Two months of this have seen economic ruin (together with 40k deaths and probably millions of infections). Two more months will see complete economic collapse.
Most of the country is not Central London. Stop applying central London principles to the rest of the country. That a concept won't work on the Tube is not a reason why it wouldn't work on most other lines around the UK which tend to operate on roughly a half-hourly "useful" base for each station or even less frequent.

I'm not sure of the solution for London. I'm not sure there is one other than perhaps going even further with the pro-cycling/e-bike/scooter/walking thing and executing mass road closures, perhaps no private vehicles at all within Zone 1, just TfL bus and black cabs. But that doesn't preclude a solution working anywhere else, and compulsory reservations clearly would work in the vast majority of the rest of the UK.
 

111-111-1

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Most of the country is not Central London. Stop applying central London principles to the rest of the country. That a concept won't work on the Tube is not a reason why it wouldn't work on most other lines around the UK which tend to operate on roughly a half-hourly "useful" base for each station or even less frequent.

I'm not sure of the solution for London. I'm not sure there is one other than perhaps going even further with the pro-cycling/e-bike/scooter/walking thing and executing mass road closures, perhaps no private vehicles at all within Zone 1, just TfL bus and black cabs. But that doesn't preclude a solution working anywhere else, and compulsory reservations clearly would work in the vast majority of the rest of the UK.
Different part = different soluton.

But you still can not tell how it will be enforce. No enforce no point trying to do.


No private vehicle in zone 1. How do you want people to get to work. Not always public transport for everybody.
 

northernchris

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It's not just cancer screening that's been cancelled - it's cancer treatment too. Our oncology dept just closed down. Those, like my OH, in the middle of treatment back in March, were just abandoned. It's only this last week that the consultant has finally got in touch to arrange it to be started again next month. OH had been ringing every week to chase for info, but promised call backs never materialised.
That really is appalling and it's these kind of issues that should be being highlighted by the media, not the never ending repeat cycle of schools of care homes. The NHS shouldn't have been allowed to stop cancer treatment for those already in progress, especially when it was realised capacity was unlikely to be exceeded. No one's life is more important than another, and given the 'unprecedented times' the focus should be on treating those with the best chance of having a good quality of life going forwards. I hope your OH receives treatment soon and makes a good recovery


it’s either compulsory reservations or unless you don’t own a car you can’t travel anywhere, and that would be far more damaging for the economy, mental health and potentially the virus if people started to ignore it than a sensible but practical system of compulsory reservations
Agreed, public transport has a crucial part to play in supporting the retail and hospitability sectors once they reopen so there does need to be a system in place to prevent buses and trains becoming overwhelmed. I live near the railway and noticed this week that whilst Crosscountry and TPE are running longer trains Northern aren't, so it may be that as numbers increase the units which aren't currently in use can be used to boost capacity on some routes
 

Mat17

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But that doesn't preclude a solution working anywhere else, and compulsory reservations clearly would work in the vast majority of the rest of the UK.
I have no doubts that the reservation first model would greatly simplify the whole "is there room, is there not room on the service?" issue.

However, there are still problems, which incidentally don't actually have anything to do with the reservation system at all. But due more to either 'availability' of capacity, be that seats or frequency of service. But also, whether companies are actually financially able to run those services.

Thinking of Leeds/Manchester/Birmingham commuters here. All large cities outside of London, that typically would have busy service levels on their commuter trains. I envisage almost a battle every week/morning, kind of like purchasing concert tickets/football season tickets. "Did you manage to get one before the seats sold out this week?" If so then you can go into work, if not then apologise to the boss I guess, "I won't be in this week." This is of course assuming passenger levels rise back to capacity.

Secondly, it doesn't matter if the reservation system works or not, if the company that provided the service has gone under. The only solution there would be to nationalise the entire travel industry and have the Government run it at a loss until the crisis is over.
 

Huntergreed

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And the problems I illustrated in post #1275 (which would not be at all isolated)? And the problems of such a system in Central London? And the problems mentioned by Mat, above? Sorry, but the idea is nonsense. The choices are far more straightforward: the country returns to work normally, which will involve public transport running normally; or it doesn't and the economy completely collapses. Two months of this have seen economic ruin (together with 40k deaths and probably millions of infections). Two more months will see complete economic collapse.
Whilst I recognise there are obstacles that have to be tackled in order to get the system to be practical and workable but also effective, dismissing the idea as nonsense seems a little rash. If we ran public transport completely normally, at least in the short term, we would just be back to where we were before the lockdown and could risk a second peak overwhelming the NHS, meaning a further lockdown and much, much more damage to our already struggling economy. We need to find a balance to minimise overall damage from all aspects during this crisis, and the happy medium, as far as public transport is concerned, seems to be enforcing compulsory reservations for most of the network. Admittedly there would need to be consideration for situations where this may not be practical and solutions would need to be carefully devised, but I would certainly say the idea is about as good as we can do given the circumstances, and I certainly wouldn't dismiss it as nonsense without a little more careful consideration.
 

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Most of the country is not Central London.
No it isn't. My example of the bus into Oxford is not Central London. Most of the country where public transport plays a large part in getting people to work is centred around large towns or cities where workers converge from outlying areas. Nobody living between Watlington and Oxford who works in the city would be able to get there. Driving into Oxford is an absolute no-no; cycling along the narrow roads which form the route - especially in the winter - would present a far greater risk than sitting on a bus. The same would be true of almost any large conurbation and that situation would be replicated across the country. Only people living at or near the outlying termini of bus or train routes would be able to use the services. Quite how it would work on the return journey is anybody's guess. All of these places (which must host a large amount - if not the majority - of the country's trade and commerce) would have difficulties. It's worked for a couple of months because many organisations have cut down considerably the services they provide (as is evident if you've tried to contact any of them). That cannot - nor should it be - a permanent solution.

...and I certainly wouldn't dismiss it as nonsense without a little more careful consideration.
I haven't dismissed it without careful consideration. Can you imagine somebody getting to a railway station either having missed their train or to find it cancelled, simply walking away (especially if they are on their way home) whilst other trains then depart with 75% of their seats empty? If there are trains, unless they are physically prevented from doing so, people will board them. We need to get real about this and not idealise about a model that has no basis in reality.
 

Mat17

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Can you imagine somebody getting to a railway station either having missed their train or to find it cancelled, simply walking away (especially if they are on their way home) whilst other trains then depart with 75% of their seats empty? If there are trains, unless they are physically prevented from doing so, people will board them. We need to get real about this and not idealise about a model that has no basis in reality.
Actually that's a really good point. I hadn't thought about cancellations. What would happen? Refund, but barred from entering next service if fully booked? Can't see them turfing people off the following service to allocate seats for those that got cancelled. Of course having travelled on many CrossCountry services, it's quite common to find many seats which are reserved and yet no one turned up to travel. So the train may even have enough capacity in reality for other travellers but be fully booked on paper.

I have to agree, the longer the situation persists, the more chance public transportation in all forms - bus, train, tram, coach, boat, plane etc. is simply going to be decimated.

Businesses can only run if the books balance in favour of profit, once they flip into loss, it can only be sustained for a certain period (even with bailouts, furloughing, loan assistance), there comes a day when the bills have to be paid. If commuters can't access or rely on the services to get to work, then they simply won't use them. If they aren't used, then the money doesn't come in and one day, sooner or later, the administrators get called in and the business closes down.

Problem is, when rural or less competitive routes go, they generally go for good.
 

111-111-1

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Actually that's a really good point. I hadn't thought about cancellations. What would happen? Refund, but barred from entering next service if fully booked? Can't see them turfing people off the following service to allocate seats for those that got cancelled. Of course having travelled on many CrossCountry services, it's quite common to find many seats which are reserved and yet no one turned up to travel. So the train may even have enough capacity in reality for other travellers but be fully booked on paper.
The LNER twiter feed just say if train cancel you reserve on another train, no info if all full. Untaken reserve seat happen on all train. I got seat by no window so move to seat with window.
 

Bletchleyite

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But you still can not tell how it will be enforce. No enforce no point trying to do.
Was the lockdown pointless as it was mostly unenforced?

No private vehicle in zone 1. How do you want people to get to work. Not always public transport for everybody.
Literally nobody at all, other than perhaps the very severely disabled who could be exempted (or given free accessible taxi travel), needs to drive a private motor car within zone 1 of London.
 

Bletchleyite

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Businesses can only run if the books balance in favour of profit, once they flip into loss, it can only be sustained for a certain period (even with bailouts, furloughing, loan assistance), there comes a day when the bills have to be paid. If commuters can't access or rely on the services to get to work, then they simply won't use them. If they aren't used, then the money doesn't come in and one day, sooner or later, the administrators get called in and the business closes down.
Private businesses, yes. But in practice the railway is not a private business. The Government can choose to carry on funding it (by printing money if needs be) for as long as it likes.
 

Bletchleyite

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Secondly, it doesn't matter if the reservation system works or not, if the company that provided the service has gone under. The only solution there would be to nationalise the entire travel industry and have the Government run it at a loss until the crisis is over.
That, to all intents and purposes, is what has happened, at least from the point of view of the financial side (which is what counts).

TOCs have had the revenue risk taken away, and bus companies are receiving extra funding (via the BSOG mechanism?) to cover their running costs.
 

Bikeman78

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Actually that's a really good point. I hadn't thought about cancellations. What would happen?
It was one of the first things I thought of. When someone jumps in front of a train between Reading and Paddington and the railway is shut for two or three hours, what then? People will probably get onto the SWR trains to Waterloo. Those at Paddington will either sit it out or go to Waterloo or Marylebone. The first few trains out will be rather busy. I recall one Sunday afternoon when a track worker was killed near Twyford. The SWT train was full and standing. Got to Reading, hundreds of people everywhere. As it happened, the first HST through was going where I wanted. It was rammed from end to end. I ended up standing next to an off side door with my arm resting on top of the droplight as far as Bristol Parkway. I finally found a seat at Newport.

On a more general note, the government has agreed to fund the railways for six months but who will pay for bus companies to run empty buses around? People generally tried to stay apart even before the virus. People would go for empty double seats or tables until they were all occupied. Only then would they start to double up. At the current level of demand, people will stay apart by themselves. Once numbers build up beyond the theoretical reduced capacity, people will just get on and be done with it.
 

111-111-1

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Literally nobody at all, other than perhaps the very severely disabled who could be exempted, needs to drive a private motor car within zone 1 of London.
My mate is train driver in London. No train to get her to work in morning for early job, no train home when she finish after late job. How do she get to work?
 

Mat17

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Private businesses, yes. But in practice the railway is not a private business. The Government can choose to carry on funding it (by printing money if needs be) for as long as it likes.

To be fair I hadn't got railways in mind when I was making that specific point. I was thinking more about local bus services and the likes of National Express inter-city coaches. I should have been clearer there.

My point there really came about having heard today's news about Shearings collapsing. I realise these are primarily 'holiday/excursion' traffic coach companies, but once the dominos start falling...
 
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Bletchleyite

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On a more general note, the government has agreed to fund the railways for six months but who will pay for bus companies to run empty buses around?
I'm not sure of the structure by which this is being done, but it is being done. FirstTransdev(f) Arrivacoachahead wouldn't be running empty buses around as a charitable exercise.
 

david1212

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Rail and bus operations with capacity limited as now are running at huge financial losses for which this level of support can not continue too much longer.

To avoid leaving every other pair of seats empty could screens be put up like now at shops so except for bays every seat can be used? Regardless of if tables are fitted would screens starting at chest height between facing bay seats be practical? Once non-essential travel is permitted there will be more couples from the same household and families who can share seats. If one couple in a seat then the aisle and an empty seat spacing would not be 2m but neither are these passengers facing each other. To reach seats others will have to pass in aisles closer but that is a brief time compared to the total journey. A guideline of say 60% capacity would be a big step up from now.
 

Bletchleyite

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Rail and bus operations with capacity limited as now are running at huge financial losses for which this level of support can not continue too much longer.

To avoid leaving every other pair of seats empty could screens be put up like now at shops so except for bays every seat can be used? Regardless of if tables are fitted would screens starting at chest height between facing bay seats be practical? Once non-essential travel is permitted there will be more couples from the same household and families who can share seats. If one couple in a seat then the aisle and an empty seat spacing would not be 2m but neither are these passengers facing each other. To reach seats others will have to pass in aisles closer but that is a brief time compared to the total journey. A guideline of say 60% capacity would be a big step up from now.
A thought I had was that, the aisle aside, compartment stock is made for this situation - one household per compartment. If this is going to go on long term (e.g. a reason is found for a vaccine to be impossible) could we reseat train interiors to that end with temporary partitions?
 

Mat17

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A thought I had was that, the aisle aside, compartment stock is made for this situation - one household per compartment. If this is going to go on long term (e.g. a reason is found for a vaccine to be impossible) could we reseat train interiors to that end with temporary partitions?
That would be one solution for sure. I am uncertain whether disability/access arrangements would negate the ability to do that though? I suppose a designated and accessible area could be provided, that would address that issue perhaps.

I ask this next question because I have often wondered but I don't know if it is an issue or not but, does air conditioning have any contributing factor to spreading (or preventing the spread) of the disease? Obviously such systems circulate air throughout the area they operate in. I'm not sure whether expired droplets would be able to be picked up and circulated around or whether they'd be too heavy and unaffected by the system, or even diluted by it. Thoughts?
 

yorksrob

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That would be one solution for sure. I am uncertain whether disability/access arrangements would negate the ability to do that though? I suppose a designated and accessible area could be provided, that would address that issue perhaps.

I ask this next question because I have often wondered but I don't know if it is an issue or not but, does air conditioning have any contributing factor to spreading (or preventing the spread) of the disease? Obviously such systems circulate air throughout the area they operate in. I'm not sure whether expired droplets would be able to be picked up and circulated around or whether they'd be too heavy and unaffected by the system, or even diluted by it. Thoughts?
It would certainly be worth someone studying what happens to the virus in an air conditioned carriage as opposed to one that isn't.
 

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The Government can choose to carry on funding it (by printing money if needs be) for as long as it likes.
Yes it can do. If it wants to introduce excessive inflation. Once its ability to raise money in the bond market is exhausted (which will come sooner than it would ordinarily since economic output is all but at a standstill) it will have to print money which will become ever more worthless. As I said in an earlier post, I don't think it is understood quite how perilous the economic situation really is. Both the economy and the integrity of Sterling are in considerable jeopardy the longer this goes on. To say that the government can carry on funding transport and just about everything else it is currently supporting for as long as it likes indicates that lack of understanding. A recent survey showed that >50% of people are quite content with the lockdown and are happy to see it extended. I doubt they'll be so happy when a vast chunk of the money they receive (from whoever is giving it to them) is confiscated in punitive taxes and what remains buys fewer and fewer goods. That is why all this talk of splitting bus seats in half, booking a slot to get into a railway station or to get on to a bus which will meander around three quarters empty, fascinating as it all is, is completely academic. Without a rapid return to something approaching normal economic activity there will be no buses, no trains, no fuel to put into either of them (or into anything else such as delivery lorries), no NHS, no public services and the money that is paid by the State in pensions, benefits, furlough pay or whatever will buy less and less - if there's anything available to buy, that is. It's as simple as that. That will really stop the spread of the virus. And it will stop just about everything else as well.
 

Tomp94

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Could really do with a train journey right now, as the railways have always been my outlet when going through tough times (this time a breakup) and really helps me to take my mind off things when not at work! (Not that I can work at the moment - furloughed)

the day trains can be used for anything other than essential journeys will be a day to celebrate
 

philosopher

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the day trains can be used for anything other than essential journeys will be a day to celebrate
Grant Shapps message did seem a bit more nuanced in regards the use of public transport today at the briefing today. The message appeared to be only use trains if you can’t do your journey by any other means rather than only use it for essential journeys. So perhaps the government realise that some people will be using public transport for journeys other than for commuting, food shopping or medical appointments.
 

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Under the latest edition (13th May) of the Coronavirus Regulations for England you are allowed to leave home with a "reasonable excuse". Among the non-exhaustive list of such excuses:

to visit a public open space for the purposes of open-air recreation to promote their physical or mental health or emotional wellbeing—

(i)alone,

(ii)with one or more members of their household, or

(iii)with one member of another household


It doesn't restrict how far you can travel and it doesn't restrict your method of getting there.
 

yorkie

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Rail and bus operations with capacity limited as now are running at huge financial losses for which this level of support can not continue too much longer....
Agreed; we need to get back to normality soon.
If one couple in a seat then the aisle and an empty seat spacing would not be 2m but neither are these passengers facing each other....
See also:
 

Huntergreed

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Agreed; we need to get back to normality soon.
I agree completely, but where I live in Scotland the 'route map' certainly doesn't seem to suggest this is on the cards anytime soon.

Phase 2 (Around Late June/Early July) States:

We are planning for public transport operating increased services but capacity would still be significantly limited to allow for physical distancing.
Phase 3 (Around Late July/Early-Mid August) States:

Public transport will be operating full services but capacity will still be significantly limited to allow for physical distancing.
Scotland are in my opinion taking a far too harsh approach on the suppression of the disease, even compared to Westminster. Is it really practical for this level of low capacity to carry on for months to come as planned by the Scottish Government? I'm getting fearful that one of the big firms here is going to end up dying off before they realise the damage this has caused, and by that point the damage will have likely been done.
 

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